Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Washing Machine Water Supply Valves

Our washing machine died a violent death.  We had noticed puddles of water appearing in the machine when it wasn't being used, but on Friday while washing a load, the door (it's a front loader) burst open and poured water out onto the floor of the utility room.  I quickly closed the door to limit any more water on the floor but after a few minutes, it burst open again.  Turning the washing machine off did no good; water continued to come out full force.  I tried to turn the water off behind the machine, where the hot and cold faucets are, but the faucet handles would not budge, so quick out to the street and turn off all the water for the house.

Then two hours of bailing, sponging, and wiping down the floor to get all the water cleaned up.  Plus, the water went thru/under the wall between the utility room and the garage and flooded it too, so it needed to also be cleaned up.

Then we could take the time to make the hot and cold faucets work, and turned the water off at the wall.  But just as with them not wanting to turn off the water at all, they also were not able to turn the water off completely -- they still leaked water at least a gallon every 2 hours.  So I capped them off, temporarily and called a plumber to replace them completely.

Allstate Plumbing was able to get someone out here on Tuesday, between 10 and 12 AM.  I moved the washing machine out of the house into the garage, so he could get to the wall behind it.



We wanted to replace the old style fixtures that required many turns to open or close with the newer ones that just take a quarter turn to turn on or off.  The plumber determined that he could not just detach the current fixtures and replace them with new ones -- the thread and pipe sizes were too different, so he cut open a section of the wall, to get at the raw copper pipes.


Then he was able to remove the old valves and solder on a new set of quarter turn valves.



That was $281.97 for parts and labor, and he was done by about 11:45 AM.  I think he did an excellent job.

Once he left, I was able to re-insulate the wall around these pipes and put the sheetrock back together.  There was another patch to the sheetrock wall down closer to the floor where it was cut open decades ago for a termite prevention treatment, so I'm fixing that at the same time -- again boosting the insulation and patching the sheetrock itself.


The pieces of sheetrock that had been cut out were glued back in place, using the "Great Stuff" foam insulation.  Great Stuff is a urethane based foam, and urethane is a good glue, so I foamed around the edges and pressed the pieces in place (and keep pressing to avoid having the glued-in pieces pushed out as the foam expands.)

Once that dries, sand off any excess, then apply sheetrock compound to fill any holes and level it out.  Not too carefully, since we want a texture.  Again, sand and apply after that dries.



Finally mask off anything that should not be painted and paint.


And once that dries, we are ready for the new washing machine.




The paint used was some leftover stuff from Home Depot, and it seems to match pretty well.



Monday, January 6, 2020

Excavating the front yard, to the street, Part 2

We keep digging towards the curb.





The top layer (of dirt) comes up pretty easy, but the next layer (of rock) is more difficult.  It was suggested that this was road base from the original construction of the curb.





But the technique is the same -- separate the rocks for disposal, mix the dirt with the rock dust and lots of leaves and keep going.  Eventually this gets us all the way to the curb at least 24 inches down.



Doing so exposes the question of what to do next to the sidewalk itself.  The "dirt" under the sidewalk is a mixture of rock and dirt and roots and the roots tend to raise the sidewalk.



We would like to discourage roots from going under the sidewalk.  So we decided to pour a cement wall along the sidewalk and continue the 6x6 limestone blocks from the end of the retaining wall to the street.

Pouring the cement wall requires framing it up, as before.


We used some left-over rebar in this section of concrete, since we had been unable to get rid of it any other way.



Then, once the concrete is poured, we mortar some of the remaining 6x6 limestone blocks from the retaining wall onto the top of the cement wall.




For this section of the  6x6 limestone blocks, we mixed up our own mortar, from sand and white masonry cement, using a 3 parts of sand to 1 part of cement ratio.  This seemed to work okay, but despite wearing gloves, it created severe chemical burns on the backs of my hands.  After two weeks those were pretty well healed.

Once the sidewalk wall was in place, the remaining job was simply to move all the dirt that we dug out back into place, mixing the different types of dirt and lots of leaves as we did.


This fills the area, but leaves a wall edge of 4 to 6 inches all around the yard, so we need to bring in about 18 cubic yards of new dirt to fill it up.  More as things settle.